MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - If the one cent sales tax was critical to avoiding fiscal disaster for Mobile, where is the crisis now that tax revenue is not meeting the city's expectations?
That was a question raised by Council Member Bess Rich, who asked the question during Tuesday, April 16's city council meeting.
Months before the Mobile City Council approved a one cent sales tax, council members were at odds with the mayor over whether it was really needed.
The mayor stuck to his guns.
This is what the mayor told FOX10 News in February 2012.
"If we don't bridge the gap across, we will see the same crisis every fiscal year. It's just simply mathematics. We've said if you got better idea, give it to us we'd be happy to look at it," he said.
The tax was approved in October. Since then, however, sales tax revenue for the city is less than half of what was anticipated for this period.
Rich indicated Tuesday, April 16, if the mayor's previous dire predictions were accurate there should be more signs of the city struggling with a huge deficit.
"At one point it was $29 (million). Many of us felt like it was not that big of a gap, but they were emphatic that we were incorrect. They were constantly saying that we were $29 million in arrears for the following year. So no matter what there should be a deficit based on that message that we received last year," Rich said.
With sales tax revenue coming in at a much slower rate than city leaders had projected, Council Member William Carroll said he just wants to make sure the city's spending is in line with the money on hand.
"What we're realizing is actual revenue versus projected revenue. Actual revenue can be slow to come in, it can be fast to come in. It doesn't mean that the revenue will not be realized during the year. But what we have to careful of is what our spending habits are at this point in time, and the actual revenue that we have," Carroll explained.
Carroll said he expects detailed information on where the city stands on the budget at an upcoming Finance Committee meeting next week.
The mayor was out of town Wednesday, April 17 and the City Finance Director Barbara Malkove was out sick.
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